Select Committees are cross-party groups of MPs which check and report on the work of government departments, as well as on more general issues of public concern and interest within a particular policy area.
When I started out as your MP, I was honoured to be elected by my new colleagues as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, the committee which holds the Home Secretary and her department to account for its work and policies.
The Committee looks at issues such as policing, immigration and counter-terrorism strategies, seeking written and oral evidence from a wide range of relevant groups and individuals. We have recently, for example, conducted the following inquiries, at the end of which we usually produce a report setting out our findings and making recommendations to the Government:
- Proceeds of crime
- Asylum accommodation
- Reform of the Police Funding Formula
- Countering extremism
- Migration crisis
- Immigration: skill shortages
- The work of the Home Secretary
I take my role on the Committee extremely seriously, as it is a valuable opportunity to conduct detailed investigation into critical issues affecting our country and our local communities. I take advantage of that opportunity whenever I can, asking tough questions of those in charge of ensuring our safety and security.
Notably, I have questioned the Home Secretary, Theresa May, on the increasing presence of Sharia courts in the UK, and secured her commitment to carry out a review into their damaging effects. I pushed for the Committee to hold its own inquiry into Sharia councils and it will be held in the coming months. We also conducted a high-profile inquiry into the investigation into the child sex abuse allegations against Lord Brittan, including the involvement of Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
I also have an interest in immigration detention, particularly conditions at Immigration Removal Centres, and have previously raised the treatment of pregnant women at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, securing a commitment from the Government to limit the detention of pregnant women.
Related to my work on the Select Committee, I chaired an inquiry for the charity Barnardo's into harmful sexual behaviour among children, which highlighted the importance of parental responsibility for children's use of the internet. I also hosted a parliamentary reception to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Barnardo's, mentioning the landmark in PMQs.
Finally, I am currently campaigning to end use of the word "honour" to describe what are currently known as "honour-based crimes", such as the murder of Qandeel Baloch by her brother in Pakistan. There were 11,000 incidents of these self-styled honour crimes in the UK over the five years from 2010, but there is no honour in them whatsoever. I believe that we will empower victims by making clear that we do not view these crimes through the eyes of the perpetrators, and that we do not see there being any legitimacy in the idea that women are the property of men. I raised the issue at Theresa May's first PMQs at Prime Minister, and subsequently wrote to her on the subject. I am hoping to hold a House of Commons debate in the autumn.
Further information about the Committee, including details about current inquiries and past reports that the Committee has published, can be found here.